Real Kashmir FC will take on Rajasthan United FC in their first home game of the season at the TRC Stadium in Srinagar on November 19 at 2pm.
It will be Real Kashmir’s first I-League match in the valley since March 2020. The Snow Leopards dearly missed the backing of their fans last season as they finished a lowly 12th, avoiding relegation on the final matchday.
Newly-appointed head coach Mehrajuddin Wadoo couldn’t hold his excitement ahead of Saturday’s match. “It’s a massive game for us tomorrow as we’re playing in front of our fans after two years. We are prepared for the first home game in Kashmir. I’m sure the players will put their best foot forward on the pitch and get the best possible result,” he said.
In the summer, Scottish coach David Robertson parted company with Real Kashmir after five seasons in-charge, and Wadoo believes it’s time for a new beginning. “Robertson has done a great job at Real Kashmir. He was here right from the club’s foundation. However, this season we’ve got many new faces on the pitch and in the staff as well. We have a new philosophy,” said the former India international.
Real Kashmir earned a narrow victory over NEROCA FC in their opening fixture of the season in Imphal last Sunday. New signing Nuhu Seidu found the net early in the second half before the Snow Leopards defended solidly to preserve their precious lead until the full time whistle.
Ghanaian centre-back Lamine Moro was impressive on his Real Kashmir debut. “It’s my first time in India and my experience in the first game was very good. I was prepared to adjust myself for the weather here and everything that will come my way,” he said.
“I’m very excited for my first home match with Real Kashmir. A lot of people are expecting good results from us. We can’t wait for tomorrow to show our fans that we’re ready,” Moro concluded.
Like Real Kashmir, visitors Rajasthan United also made the perfect start to their second I-League campaign, edging out Churchill Brothers 2-1 in Bambolim, Goa, on Tuesday night. Goals from Melroy Assisi and Britto PM either side of half time secured all three points for the Desert Warriors, who ended the contest with ten men after Hardik Bhatt was shown a second yellow late on.
“It was very important to start the new season with a win. The boys showed their character against a former champion and seasoned side from Goa,” said head coach Pushpender Kundu.
The Indian shared his thoughts on the challenge of playing in Kashmir. “Keeping the weather in mind, we arrived a few days early. It’s still November, so it’s not too cold yet. My boys are like warriors and are ready to face challenges under any circumstances.”
TRC Stadium’s synthetic turf will also be new territory for Rajasthan United, according to midfielder Ragav Gupta. “We haven’t trained much on synthetic turf, but are determined to give our best.”
The 23-year-old, who had a positive outing against Churchill Brothers, stated his targets for the season. “I want to keep improving, correct my mistakes and do better with every game.”
Gupta was part of the Real Kashmir squad in 2021-22 and is eager to face his former side. “I had a great season with Real Kashmir last time. I have plenty of friends there. But I have to be professional at this level and I want to work hard for my team Rajasthan United.”